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Colin Firth masters the role of a royal stutterer in 'The King's Speech'

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October 27, 2010|By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times
  • Colin Firth plays the stuttering King George VI in the film "The King's Speech."
Colin Firth plays the stuttering King George VI in the film "The King's… (Daniel Deme / EPA )

British actor Colin Firth plays a completely convincing stutterer as King George VI in the upcoming film "The King’s Speech" -- at least that’s the opinion of someone who could have been one of his harshest critics.

Norbert Lieckfeldt, head of the British Stammering Assn., and Firth discuss stuttering and the movie in which King George VI, who unexpectedly took the throne in 1936 after his older brother abdicated, works doggedly with a speech therapist. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation posted on the association's website:

(Lieckfeldt) "I have seen the movie and I have been deeply moved by the authenticity of the stammering experience. These silent blocks - they were me. I came away feeling incredibly tense and worn out by the kind of sympathetic 'phantom stammering,' going through every block that was on screen. How did you manage to get this so right?

Also: How can you tell if your child is a stutterer?

(Firth): I've been asked this several times. It is terribly important to me that if you're addressing the real issue like this, I feel I owe it to myself and to anybody who struggles with it to be as authentic as much as I can. It's amazing, if you go into an issue like this, just how many people will tell you I have it, had it, my brother does, my cousin, my...” Click here for the full story.

Firth also talks about how much he learned about stuttering while playing the role — something columnist Nicole Brochu of the South Florida Sun Sentinel predicts will have a similar impact on audiences. "….More importantly, it will shine a light on a human condition much of the world views with some ridicule or pity — and perhaps blow away some widely held myths in the process," she writes in "Stuttering hits the big screen, with a splash."

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